Israeli tanks reach central Rafah as strikes continue

Rushdi Abu Alouf,David GrittenShare

Reuters A man and a young boy walk among ruins in Rafah

Israeli forces have reportedly reached the centre of the southern Gaza city of Rafah and seized a strategically important hill overlooking the nearby border with Egypt.

Witnesses and local journalists said tanks were stationed at al-Awda roundabout, which is considered a key landmark.

They also said tanks were on Zoroub Hill, effectively giving Israel control of the Philadelphi Corridor – a narrow strip of land running along the border to the sea.

The Israeli military said its troops were continuing activities against “terror targets” in Rafah, three weeks after it launched the ground operation there.

Western areas of the city also came under intense bombardment overnight, residents said, despite international condemnation of an Israeli air strike and a resulting fire on Sunday that killed dozens of Palestinians at a tented camp for displaced people.

The Israeli military said it was investigating the possibility that the fire was caused by the explosion of weapons stored by Hamas in the vicinity.

It also denied reports from local health and emergency services officials on Tuesday afternoon that tank shells had hit another camp in al-Mawasi, on the coast west of Rafah, killing at least 21 people.

Reuters news agency cited local health officials as saying the blast occurred after Israeli tank shells hit a cluster of tents in al-Mawasi on Tuesday. An official in the Hamas-run civil defence force also told AFP there had been a deadly Israeli strike on tents.

Videos posted to social media and analysed by BBC Verify showed multiple people with serious injuries, some lying motionless on the ground, near tents and other temporary structures.

There was no clear sign of a blast zone or crater, making it impossible to ascertain the cause of the incident. The location – verified through reference to surrounding buildings – is between Rafah and al-Mawasi, and lies south of the IDF’s designated humanitarian zone.

The IDF said in a statement: “Contrary to the reports from the last few hours, the IDF did not strike in the humanitarian area in al-Mawasi.”

Israel has insisted that victory in its seven-month war with Hamas in Gaza is impossible without taking Rafah and rejected warnings that it could have catastrophic humanitarian consequences.

The UN says around a million people have now fled the fighting in Rafah, but several hundred thousand more could still be sheltering there.

The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) began what they called “targeted” ground operations against Hamas fighters and infrastructure in the east of Rafah on 6 May.

Since then, tanks and troops have gradually pushed into built-up eastern and central areas while also moving northwards along the 13km (8-mile) border with Egypt.

On Tuesday, they reportedly reached the city centre for the first time.

The al-Awda roundabout, which is only 800m (2,600 ft) from the border, is the location of major banks, government institutions, businesses, and shops.

One witness said they saw soldiers position themselves at the top of a building overlooking the roundabout and then begin to shoot at anyone who was moving.

Video posted online meanwhile showed tank track marks on a road about 3km west of al-Awda roundabout and 300m from the Indonesian field hospital, which was damaged overnight.

Reuters A Palestinian girl sits on top of possessions being transported by a cart in Rafah, in the southern Gaza Strip (28 May 2024)
The UN says around a million people have fled Rafah since the start of the Israeli ground operation in the city

Earlier, residents told the BBC that tanks seized Zoroub Hill, about 2.5km north-west of al-Awda roundabout, after gun battles with Hamas-led fighters.

The hill is highest point along the Egyptian border and its seizure means the entire Gazan side of the border is now effectively under Israeli control.

Zoroub Hill also overlooks western Rafah, where residents said there had been the heaviest air and artillery strikes overnight since the start of the Israeli operation.

A local journalist said the bombardment forced hundreds of families to seek temporary shelter in the courtyard of a hospital, while ambulances struggled to reach casualties in the affected areas.

At dawn, thousands of people were seen heading north, crammed into cars and lorries and onto carts pulled by donkeys and horses.

“The explosions are rattling our tent, my children are frightened, and my sick father makes it impossible for us to escape the darkness,” resident Khaled Mahmoud told the BBC.

“We are supposed to be in a safe zone according to the Israeli army, yet we have not received evacuation orders like those in the eastern [Rafah] region,” he added. “We fear for our lives if no-one steps in to protect us.

The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) did not comment on the various reports but put out a statement saying that “overnight troops operated on the Philadelphi Corridor while conducting precise operational activity based on intelligence indicating the presence of terror targets in the area”.

“The activity is being conducted as efforts are continuing to be made in order to prevent harm to uninvolved civilians in the area,” it added.

“The troops are engaging with terrorists in close-quarters combat and locating terror tunnel shafts, weapons, and additional terrorist infrastructure in the area.”

The IDF has told civilians in eastern Rafah to evacuate for their own safety to an “expanded humanitarian area” stretching from al-Mawasi, a coastal area just north of Rafah, to the central town of Deir al-Balah.

EPA A Palestinian woman reacts next to tents destroyed by a fire triggered by an Israeli air strike in western Rafah on Sunday, in the southern Gaza Strip (28 May 2024)
Israel’s prime minister said the killing of civilians in an air strike and resulting fire in Rafah on Sunday was a “tragedy”

On Sunday night, at least 45 people – more than half of them children, women and the elderly – were killed when an Israeli air strike triggered a huge fire in a camp for displaced people near a UN logistics base in the Tal al-Sultan area, according to the Hamas-run health ministry.

Hundreds more were treated for severe burns, fractures and shrapnel wounds.

The IDF said it was targeting two senior Hamas officials in the attack, which happened hours after Hamas fighters in south-eastern Rafah launched rockets towards the Israeli city of Tel Aviv for the first time in months.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said a “tragic incident” had occurred “despite our immense efforts to avoid harming non-combatants” and promised a thorough investigation.

IDF chief spokesman Rear Admiral Daniel Hagari said on Tuesday that the strike had targeted a structure used by the Hamas commanders which was away from any tents, using “two munitions with small warheads”.

“Following this strike, a large fire ignited for reasons that are still being investigated. Our munitions alone could not have ignited a fire of this size,” he said.

Rear Adm Hagari added that investigators were looking into the possibility that the fire was caused by the explosion of weapons or ammunition stored in a nearby structure, and played what he said was an intercepted telephone conversation between two Gazans suggesting that. The audio recording could not immediately be verified.

Sam Rose of the UN agency for Palestinian refugees, Unrwa, told the BBC from western Rafah that the killing of so many civilians could not be dismissed as an accident.

“Gaza was already one of the most overcrowded places on the planet. It is absolutely impossible to prosecute a military campaign involving large-scale munitions, strikes from the sky, the sea, the tanks, without exacting large-scale civilian casualties,” he said.

“It seems like we are plumbing new depths of horror, bloodshed and brutality with every single day. And if this isn’t a wake-up call, then it’s hard to see what will be.”

Last week, the International Court of Justice (ICJ) ordered Israel to “immediately halt its military offensive, and any other action in the Rafah Governorate, which may inflict on the Palestinian group in Gaza conditions of life that could bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part”.

Israel launched a military campaign in Gaza to destroy Hamas in response to the group’s cross-border attack on southern Israel on 7 October, during which about 1,200 people were killed and 252 others were taken hostage.

At least 36,090 people have been killed in Gaza since then, according to the Hamas-run health ministry.

Domestic tourism soars in China but foreigners stay away

BBC/KATHERINA TSE A popular thing to do in Wuzhen is to pose for photos dressed in traditional hanfu clothing
A popular thing to do in Wuzhen is pose for photos dressed in traditional hanfu clothing

With the Chinese economy facing massive challenges, there have been concerns over its growth potential, at least in the immediate future.

Yet a key exception is emerging in the form of domestic tourism.

Last week’s five-day public holiday to mark labour day saw 295 million trips made within China, according to figures from the Ministry of Culture and Tourism. This was 28% higher than pre-pandemic figures recorded in 2019.

The Transport Ministry’s figures are also staggering: 92 million rail trips; almost 10 million air trips and 1.25 billion highway journeys.

However, this comes as international arrivals continue to lag, with foreigners currently entering China at barely 30% of 2019 levels. Why the disparity?

The beautiful historical river town of Wuzhen, a short drive from Shanghai, is considered one of China’s top visitor sites for travellers of all types. When we arrive the little pathways and old bridges which cross narrow waterways are filled with visitors.

A popular thing to do in Wuzhen is to pose for photos dressed in traditional hanfu clothing – as if you have really been transported back hundreds of years.

Two women in their 20s, friends since high school, are visiting from Jilin Province in the north east. After arriving, they spend an hour getting their hair done in an elaborate imperial-era style – and they are full of praise for Wuzhen’s classical beauty.

We ask if, following the post-Covid opening up, many of their family and other friends have been travelling much? “Of course, after the pandemic, we’re all visiting other places.”

Nearby a local man who is selling ice-creams also says tourist numbers are “not that bad lately”.

As good as before Covid? “Almost the same,” he replies.

Shopkeeper Wang Ying, who sells traditional snacks, echoes this sentiment with a big smile on her face. “Business is going well, and it’ll only get better.”

BBC/KATHERINA TSE Wuzhen is considered one of China's top visitor sites
Wuzhen is considered one of China’s top visitor sites

All this will be seen as good news for the Chinese government. It’s been saying that a push on domestic consumption can counter the significant faltering portions of the economy.

Major players in the once-mighty property sector are struggling to stay afloat, local government debt continues to rise, and persistent youth unemployment has left highly qualified university graduates uncertain of their future.

Amid all these challenges, the Communist Party has set a target of “around 5%” GDP growth for this year. Apart from the fact that analysts have long questioned the veracity of the country’s official growth figures, economists are also asking how such a target can be reached, in any genuine sense, in 2024 without significant extra stimulus.

One lifeline could be a more buoyant travel scene which could bring broader business opportunities and greater service industry employment.

Schubert Lou, chief operating officer at travel agency, told the BBC: “We’ve seen very strong domestic travel demand with search volumes in hotels up 67% compared to last year, and flight volumes up 80%.”

Tourism industry consultant Peng Han from Travel Daily is following the investment trail to see how the business community really views the possibilities in the sector.

“With famous international hotel brands – like Intercontinental, Marriott and Hilton – you just have to look at their growth in China in 2023,” he says. “Then check the performance goals for these large hotel groups in 2024 which have also been set relatively high. This shows that they are very optimistic about the growth potential of the Chinese market.”

But, while the volume of local travellers might be up, Mr Peng does point to the problem of per capita consumption which remains persistently low.

He says general uncertainty about the Chinese economy is putting more emphasis on saving, so people are looking for good value options. They are going on holidays and paying for things but doing so much more frugally.

This is where an increase in big-spending foreigners could help. But they are simply not travelling to China in the numbers they used to.

In 2019, nearly 98 million international visitors came to the country. Last year it was only 35 million – including business trips, students and the like. Mr Lou describes the domestic versus international market as “uneven”.

For many in the tourism industry here specialising in services for foreign travellers, “uneven” would be an understatement. Three years of harsh Covid prevention measures drove down arrivals from other countries, but that alone can’t account for the current situation.

Huang Songshan, the head of the Centre for Tourism Research in the School of Business and Law at Australia’s Edith Cowan University, blames this weakness in part to “the shifting geopolitical landscape globally”.

Getty Images Chinese performer
China’s culture and heritage has traditionally been a big draw for tourists

In the peer-reviewed East Asia Forum, he pointed to a 2023 survey carried out by the Pew Research Centre, writing that, “Most individuals in Western nations hold unfavourable views towards China. The Chinese government’s tightening grip on societal regulations could potentially cause discomfort for foreign travellers in China.”

Official travel advice from some governments echo this sentiment, at times quite harshly.

Washington warns potential travellers to “reconsider travel to Mainland China due to the arbitrary enforcement of local laws, including in relation to exit bans, and the risk of wrongful detentions”.

Australia advises “a high degree of caution” warning that “Australians may be at risk of arbitrary detention or harsh enforcement of local laws, including broadly defined National Security Laws”.

The political environment has also taken a toll on flight availability and price. This is especially the case with connections to and from North America. Last month’s 332 scheduled round trips between China and the US contrasts with 1,506 in April 2019.

As a result, finding a seat on a direct flight can be extremely difficult and those that are available are very expensive.

President Xi Jinping made a speech at a dinner on the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation conference in San Francisco last November addressing this point. “Today, President Biden and I reached important consensus,” he told the crowd.

“Our two countries will roll out more measures to facilitate travels and promote people-to-people exchanges, including increasing direct passenger flights, holding a high-level dialogue on tourism, and streamlining visa application procedures. We hope that our two peoples will make more visits, contacts and exchanges and write new stories of friendship in the new era.”

Washington has since increased the number of Chinese airline flights permitted to land – but only from 35 per week to 50. It is still well short of the 150 weekly trips pre-Covid.

The Biden administration is coming under pressure from unions and US airlines to not increase this any further because, they argue, Chinese airlines have an unfair advantage over them as they have state support; don’t face the same onerous Chinese regulations; and, crucially, can fly over Russian airspace, making trips shorter and cheaper.

A letter to the US government from the Chair of the House Committee on China, Mike Gallagher, and the committee’s top Democrat representative, Raja Krishnamoorthi, reads: “Should the US-China passenger carrier market expand without the US government addressing these significant issues, US aviation workers, travellers and airlines will pay a hefty price tag.”

Mr Lou says the frequency of international flight connections is definitely having an impact.

“What we are seeing right now, based on civil aviation data, is that inbound flight capacity won’t get back to even 80% of 2019 [levels] by the end of 2024.”

Then there are other potential turnoffs for those considering travelling in China, like the country’s state-of-the-art phone app payment and booking systems which work very smoothly for Chinese citizens and residents, but which can be an enormous headache if you have just arrived.

There are certain sites, transport options, and purchases which can only be accessed via Chinese electronic apps which are, at times, only available in Chinese.

Professor Chen Yong at Switzerland’s EHL Hospitality Business School is an authority on the economics of tourism in China. He thinks that hurdles relating to payment and booking apps can pose a real problem.

“Technologies such as social network websites, online maps, payment apps, among others, which foreigners have long been accustomed to using, are either unavailable or inaccessible when they travel to China,” he says.

“On the other hand, there are Chinese alternatives to these technologies that remain inaccessible to foreigners due to language barriers and differences in user habits. We need to bridge this divide because it affects the tourist industry badly.”

Back in Wuzhen, the presence of international travellers is much smaller than in years gone by, but there are still a few foreign faces in the crowd.

An Italian couple says the process of linking up to and using China’s payment apps was a challenge but that it was not insurmountable, though they add, with a laugh, that it is “much, much, much easier” if you have a Chinese friend to help you.

BBC/KATHERINA TSE Woman and child pose for selfies
Chinese officials have acknowledged that the foreign traveller numbers have been low but they are trying to turn this around

Eliseo, from California, says he has had problems making payments to small vendors who don’t accept credit cards and really no longer deal with cash. Another hurdle for him has been his bank at home which has blocked some payments, flagging them as potentially fraudulent coming from China.

Chinese officials have acknowledged that the foreign traveller numbers have been low but they are now trying to turn this around.

One way they’re attempting to attract more foreign visitors is by increasing the number of countries whose citizens don’t need a visa to enter. says this resulted in an almost immediate increase in passenger arrivals from Southeast Asia.

In 23 Chinese cities, transit passengers from more than 50 countries are also able to stay for a few days visa free if they have an onward ticket. In Shanghai, hotels above a three-star level have been told that they should prepare to deal with international credit cards and an initial batch of 50 taxis have also started accepting them.

However, Professor Chen says “it would be too optimistic to envision a long-term growth in China’s inbound tourism”.

“The key is to establish a culture that puts service providers in the shoes of foreign tourists. They should imagine themselves being a foreigner who can’t speak or read Chinese and who doesn’t have a Chinese mobile number, payments apps and so on.”

He says that the culture around this can’t be changed overnight.

Yet, in places like Wuzhen – where the local travellers have already returned – the tourism companies are hoping that incredible sites like theirs will eventually be too much for foreigners to resist as well.

Lok Sabha 2024: The influencers driving India’s big election

BBC InfluencersBBCInfluencers like Ranting Gola (left) and Sham Sharma are using their social media presence to promote political parties

Just weeks before the first ballot was cast in this year’s Indian election, Prime Minister Narendra Modi was at an event in Delhi rubbing shoulders with people known by names like BeerBiceps and Curly Tales.

The event – an awards show, congratulating some of the country’s top social media stars on their work – was an acknowledgement of the power of the influencer which a few years ago may have seemed unimaginable.

And as politicians prepared to battle it out for India’s billion votes, these influencers were being lined up to play a crucial role in reaching the young, the disinterested and the disillusioned.

But even as some celebrate social media’s democratisation of the media – a place where any one can share their views freely – others paint a darker picture, one where threats are rife, and the truth can be set aside for the right pay cheque.

A decade ago, you would have struggled to find anyone calling themselves an “influencer”.

But now, says Vinay Deshpande, co-founder of Rajneethi, a political management consultant firm, “it’s become a profession”.

“I know teenagers who are doing this part-time to earn pocket money.”

Pocket money underplays the earning potential somewhat, however. At the lower end, people can charge around 2,000 rupees ($24; £19) a day, but top influencers can pull in about 500,000 rupees for a post – equivalent to the monthly salary of someone in top-level management.

The creator of the Ranting Gola channel revealed to the BBC that political parties and election management firms have offered as much as “100,000 to 500,000 rupees for a single campaign”.

It is no small amount – but then, it could turn the tide in a candidate’s favour.

Presentational grey line

Mr Deshpande says they have helped an opposition candidate win an assembly election by pushing out content through a curated list of local influencers with a small but active following.

“Social media content is powerful and can influence the way a person feels about an issue,” Mr Deshpande says. “It gives social currency to a belief or opinion – but this can lead to a lack of critical thinking about an issue,” he adds.

Preethi Aggarwal, 25, is one of those who turns to apps like Instagram, YouTube and Twitter to help her understand the news.

Like thousands of others, Ms Aggarwal follows a bunch of “political influencers”, or people who talk about politics on social media to “really understand what’s going on”.

“News can get boring and complicated sometimes. I think these people [influencers] make it fun and easier to understand,” she says, adding the context and their own perspective help her form her opinions.

But the problem is, whose perspective is she getting?

PMO India / YouTube InfluencersPMO India / YouTubePM Modi congratulated Ranveer Allahbadia (left, known as BeerBiceps) and other influencers at a recent event

YouTuber Samdish Bhatia reveals numerous politicians have reached out to him, especially in the months before this election, offering him millions of rupees to interview them.

“But they wanted me to share questions in advance or get the video approved before it’s published,” he says, adding that he declined the offers because he “likes to maintain editorial control”.

The particular trend for longer form, slightly chummy interviews – where politicians get to show off their human side – is particularly vulnerable to management, says Joyojeet Pal, an associate professor at the University of Michigan.

“Many of these interviews are carefully managed by politicians,” Mr Pal says.

But even if they aren’t, a gentler style of questioning can also blur the line between interview and promotion, says Mr Pal.

“If your questions aren’t holding power to account, then the interview just becomes a platform for easy publicity.”

But for Mr Pal, this is just one of the problems he sees with politics on social media.

In a recent research paper, he examined some of India’s top influencers and who they interviewed, finding BJP leaders were featured more often than opposition leaders.

His research also found an overall drop in the number of accounts posting content critical of the incumbent government in recent years, while the amount of pro-BJP content had increased.

“This hints at a growing hesitancy among people to be openly critical of the government whereas there seems to be more confidence in putting up polarising content or content that supports the government’s ideologies,” Mr Pal says.

“And this is dangerous for democracy,” he adds.

Getty Images InfluencersGetty ImagesEven in the most remote areas, Indians have access to a mobile phone and internet

Influencers supporting the opposition certainly suggested they were working in a hostile environment.

A number who post content that’s critical of the government declined to speak to the BBC for this piece citing fear of repercussions by the government. They also run their channels under pseudonyms to keep their identities secret.

The Ranting Gola told the BBC that she has often received comments that are abusive or threatening because of the videos she posts and that her Instagram account has been disabled numerous times, even though the platform hasn’t given her a clear reason for doing so.

She also only spoke to the BBC on the condition that her name not be revealed.

The BJP government has denied allegations that it has clamped down on dissent and free speech.

But even pro-BJP YouTuber Sham Sharma told the BBC that freedom of speech could be a problem in India:

0:52YouTuber Sham Sharma talks about the positives and perils of sharing his views online.

But even given these concerns, opposition parties are using the same influencer system to reach voters in what they say is a difficult environment.

“The mainstream media has been taken over by the BJP,” alleges Supriya Srinate, who heads social media for the Congress party.

“Our funds have been frozen; we have no money to advertise,” she adds, referring to action taken by India’s tax department weeks before the elections. Congress leaders have accused the government of political vendetta, but the government has denied the allegation and said that the federal department was doing its job independently.

Influencers, Ms Srinate argues, are a good way to reach voters as a result of these alleged hurdles, explaining the Congress has been working with “volunteers” who believe in the party’s ideology and want to share its work on social media.

Ankit Lal, former political advisor of the opposition Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), agrees that influencers have helped democratise the publicity landscape.

Akash Banerjee, a former journalist who runs the YouTube channel, The DeshBhakt, argues that influencers are also able to push boundaries more than the traditional media can.

He cites the video ‘Is India becoming a dictatorship?’ – made by popular content creator Dhruv Rathee, who is based in Germany – which takes on the government directly, and has been viewed about 24 million times on YouTube so far. The government hasn’t reacted to the video yet.

“After the video, the term ‘dictatorship’ has popped up more in conversations, and this is something that has never happened before,” Mr Banerjee says.

“Our job as influencers may not be to open the window and check if it’s really raining, but we owe it to the nation to take a look outside the window and let people know if dark clouds are approaching and that they can do something about it by voting.”

Baltimore sues owner and manager of ‘unseaworthy’ Dali over bridge collapse

Getty Images An aerial view the morning after the bridge collapseGetty ImagesThe Dali was a ‘clearly unseaworthy’ ship with ‘an incompetent crew’, the city of Baltimore argued in a lawsuit filed Monday

Baltimore has sued the operators of the container ship that hit and destroyed one of the US city’s main bridges last month, killing six people.

The city says the Dali was “clearly unseaworthy” and accuses its owners and manager of negligence.

The ship’s Singapore-based owner and manager have already asked a court to limit their liability.

The region is reeling from the closure of its busiest maritime transit port after the span collapsed on 26 March.

“None of this should have happened,” attorneys representing the Baltimore mayor and city council argued in a federal lawsuit.

The city is asking the US District Court of Maryland for a jury trial to hold the defendants fully liable.

Naming the Dali’s owner, Grace Ocean Private Limited, and its manager, Synergy Marine Private Limited, the suit alleges the Francis Scott Key Bridge’s collapse was a direct result of their “gross negligence, and recklessness, and as a result of the unseaworthiness of the Vessel”.

On 1 April, Grace Ocean and Synergy Marine petitioned the same federal court in Maryland to cap its responsibility for the incident.

Citing a pre-Civil War maritime law, the pair of companies estimated their liability for the vessel and the cargo’s value at $43.6m (£35m).

Monday’s court filing from the city of Baltimore rebuts that number as “substantially less than the amount that will be claimed for losses and damages arising out of the Dali’s allision with the Key Bridge”.

The path taken by the cargo ship – which was exiting the Port of Baltimore under the Key Bridge – is “no stranger to large freighters”, the city’s representatives wrote.

They said the vessel “had been experiencing an inconsistent power supply” that was either not investigated or not fixed.

“The Dali left port anyway, despite its clearly unseaworthy condition,” said the lawsuit.

The filing also says the Dali was manned by “an incompetent crew that was inattentive to its duties” and “lacked proper training”.

Contains upsetting scenes.Tracking data shows the path of the Dali container towards the bridge

On Friday, port officials opened a third temporary channel for boats to enter and exit the corridor, but these channels can only sustain about 15% of pre-collapse commercial activity.

A fourth channel, that will allow most traffic back into the port, is expected to open by the end of the month.

Darrell Wilson, an attorney who represents Synergy Marine and is also handling media inquiries on behalf of Grace Ocean, told the BBC it would be inappropriate to comment on the litigation while federal investigations into the collapse were ongoing.

New drone video shows close-up view of debris from the Baltimore bridge collapse

Six construction workers who were fixing potholes died when the bridge collapsed. Two of the bodies have yet to be recovered.

Workers are still extracting thousands of tonnes of debris from the water and from atop the stationary Dali, whose original schedule would have seen it arrive at a Sri Lankan port on Monday.

Apart from two of the ship’s pilots, 21 crew members – almost all of whom are of Indian origin – remain on the ship. There is no timeline yet for when the crew will disembark or head back to sea.

Berdasarkan Sunnah Nabi, Salat Idul Fitri Sebaiknya Digelar di Lapangan

Pelaksanaan Salat Idul Fitri di lapangan. (Foto: Dok. Muhammadiyah)
Pelaksanaan Salat Idul Fitri di lapangan. (Foto: Dok. Muhammadiyah)  Rakyat Merdeka – Salat Idul Fitri merupakan momen kebahagiaan dan syukur umat Muslim setelah menyelesaikan ibadah puasa Ramadan. Sebagaimana dikutip dari, dalam semangat menjaga tradisi yang didasarkan pada Sunnah Nabi Muhammad SAW, Salat Id sebaiknya dilaksanakan di lapangan, bukan di dalam masjid, kecuali jika cuaca buruk menghalangi pelaksanaan di lapangan.

Penetapan ini sesuai dengan praktik Rasulullah SAW yang senantiasa melaksanakan Salat Id di lapangan. Rasulullah biasanya salat di “mushallaa”, sebuah tanah lapang yang terletak sekitar 1.000 hasta (200 meter) dari masjid pada masa itu. Rasulullah SAW tidak pernah melaksanakan Salat Id di dalam masjid, kecuali hanya sekali saat hujan turun dengan deras.

عَنْ أَبِي سَعِيدٍ الْخُدْرِيِّ قَالَ كَانَ رَسُولُ اللهِ صَلَّى اللهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ يَخْرُجُ يَوْمَ الْفِطْرِ وَاْلأَضْحَى إِلَى الْمُصَلَّى فَأَوَّلُ شَيْءٍ يَبْدَأُ بِهِ الصَّلاَةُ … [رواه البخاري]

“Diriwayatkan dari Abu Sa‘id al-Khudri bahwa ia berkata: Nabi Muhammad SAW selalu keluar pada hari Idul Fitri dan hari Idul Adlha menuju lapangan. Lalu hal pertama yang ia lakukan adalah salat …” [HR. al-Bukhari].

Hadis yang diriwayatkan Abu Sa‘id al-Khudri dan Abu Hurairah tersebut menggambarkan praktik Rasulullah SAW dalam melaksanakan Salat Id. Dalam hadis tersebut, terungkap bahwa Rasulullah selalu keluar menuju lapangan pada hari Idul Fitri dan Idul Adha, dan melakukan Salat Id sebagai kegiatan utama.

Hanya saat hujan turun, Rasulullah melakukan Salat Id di dalam masjid sekali. Sementara praktik yang umum adalah di lapangan terbuka.

عَنْ أَبِي هُرَيْرَةَ أَنَّهُ أَصَابَهُمْ مَطَرٌ فِي يَوْمِ عِيدٍ فَصَلَّى بِهِمُ النَّبِيُّ صَلَّى اللهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ صَلاَةَ الْعِيدِ فِي الْمَسْجِدِ. [رواه أبو داود وابن ماجه والحاكم، وقال: هذا حديث صحيح الإسناد].

“Diriwayatkan dari Abu Haurairah bahwa mereka (para sahabat) pada suatu hari raya mengalami hujan, lalu Nabi SAW melakukan salat bersama mereka di masjid.” [HR. Abu Dawud, Ibnu Majah, dan al-Hakim. Ia (al-Hakim) mengatakan: Ini adalah hadis sahih sanadnya (Al-Mustadrak, I:295, “Kitab al-‘Idain)].

Dengan mempertahankan tradisi Salat Id di lapangan, umat Muslim mengikuti jejak Nabi SAW dalam merayakan momen penting dalam agama Islam dengan semangat kesatuan dan kebersamaan. Hal ini juga menjadi bentuk penghormatan terhadap sunnah dan tuntunan yang telah diberikan Rasulullah SAW kepada umatnya.

Sidang Sengketa Pilpres Memanas

Hakim MK Komentarin Berlian Hotman Paris

Sidang sengketa Pilpres 2024 di MK. (Foto: Patra Rizki Syahputra/RM)
Sidang sengketa Pilpres 2024 di MK. (Foto: Patra Rizki Syahputra/RM)  Rakyat Merdeka – Majelis hakim Mahkamah Konstitusi (MK) kembali menggelar sidang lanjutan Perselisihan Hasil Perhitungan Suara (PHPU), kemarin. Berbeda dengan sebelumnya, tensi sidang kali cukup panas. Beberapa kali dari tim kuasa hukum masing-masing paslon saling berdebat. Untuk mencairkan suasana, hakim MK sampai berkomentar soal berlian di jari-jari Hotman Paris. 

Dalam sidang PHPU yang digelar sejak Rabu (3/4/2024) pagi, giliran KPU dan Bawaslu yang menghadirkan seorang ahli Teknologi dan Informasi (IT). Mereka adalah pakar IT Marsudi Wahyu Kisworo, pengembang aplikasi Sistem Informasi Rekapitulasi Pemilu (Sirekap) Yudistira Dwi Wardhana Asnar dan pegawai Pusat Data Teknologi Informasi (Pusdatin) KPU Andre Putra Hermawan. 

Selama kurang lebih 3,5 jam ketiganya secara bergantian menjelaskan seputar Sirekap. Namun, tim hukum dari kubu 01 dan 03 tidak puas atas keterangan saksi-saksi. 

Kedua Pemohon menilai, ketidakakuratan data yang termuat dalam Sirekap membuat hasil perhitungan suara Pilpres dan Pileg yang dilakukan KPU diragukan. Contohnya, disampaikan ketika Bambang Widjojanto selaku Tim Hukum AMIN yang mempermasalahkah adanya dugaan penggelembungan suara. 

Pria yang akrab disapa BW ini menjelaskan, batas Daftar Pemilih Tetap (DPT) di Tempat Pemungutan Suara (TPS) adalah 300 orang. Namun, berdasarkan data Sirekap, ada beberapa daerah yang DPT-nya terdirinya dari ribuan orang. 

“Ada informasi kayak ini, dan ribuan, bahkan ratusan ribu, apakah itu tidak cukup dijadikan dasar untuk sampai pada kesimpulan ada fraud di dalam (Sirekap) situ?” cecar BW saat sidang di MK, Jakarta, Rabu (3/4/2024). 

Sebagai pihak terkait, tim pembela Prabowo Subianto-Gibran Rakabuming Raka, Hotman Paris ikut berkomentar untuk menjawab tudingan tersebut. Namun, sebelumnya Hotman lebih dulu mengucapkan terima kasih pada Hakim MK Arief Hidayat karena sudah mengingatkan peserta sidang bahwa MK bukan tempat membahas urusan digital. 

“Sekali lagi hormat saya kepada Pak Arief Hidayat karena bapak sudah mengingatkan kami bahwa kami adalah Sarjana Hukum, dari tadi kita kuliah komputer,” ujar Hotman Paris dengan sikap sembah yang membuat berlian di jemarinya tersorot. 

Menanggapi hal itu, Hakim Arief sontak menyoroti cincin berlian yang berada di jari-jari pria yang dijuluki pengacara 30 miliar tersebut. “Sebentar Pak Hotman, tadi waktu mengirim tabik (salam) saya lihat cincinnya bagus-bagus,” pujinya. 

Hotman Paris pun tersenyum mendengar pujian itu, begitu juga Arief Hidayat. Namun, Hotman tak menanggapinya dan langsung kembali ke topik pembahasan. 

Menurut Hotman, Keputusan KPU Nomor 360 Tahun 2024 tentang penetapan hasil Pilpres dan Pileg tetap menggunakan hasil perhitungan suara manual dan berjenjang. Sehingga dia menilai pembahasan Sirekap dalam sidang tidak penting. 

“Dalam SK KPU itu perhitungan suara yang digunakan yang manual dan berjenjang. Jadi masih perlu nggak bapak kuliah disini, masih perlu nggak kita bahas Sirekap. Masih perlu nggak saksi menjawab pertanyaan Pak Refly (Harun) dan Bambang yang selalu ‘ngeyel’ tentang Sirekap ini,” ujar Hotman. 

Pernyataan Hotman langsung disemprot Hakim MK Saldi Isra. Dia menegaskan, mahkamah berkepentingan mendapatkan penjelasan soal Sirekap. Sehingga, dia meminta pihak terkait tidak menganggap remeh kehadiran saksi dalam sidang.

Bahkan Saldi meminta pihak terkait tidak perlu hadir dalam sidang, jika merasa pembahasan soal Sirekap dianggap tidak penting. “Jadi kita jangan menganggap kehadiran seseorang saksi dalam sidang itu tidak penting. Itu keliru juga, kalau nggak, nggak datang saja kesini,” tegas Saldi. 

Mendapat pembelaan dari Saldi Isra, BW ikut senang dan meminta Hotman menjaga ucapannya. “Pernyataan ngeyel itu juga nggak pantas diucapkan. Hotmen,” selorohnya. Mendengar ucapan BW, Saldi ikut tersenyum. Bahkan, Hotman dan seluruh tim hukumnya terlihat sumringah. 

Diketahui dalam sidang ini, ahli Marsudi Wahyu Kisworo menyampaikan sejak pertama kali teknologi komputer digunakan dalam pemilu pada 2004, sistem penghitungan suara digital selalu dipermasalahkan. Padahal, semua itu digunakan untuk mendukung tampilan real count selama proses penghitungan suara Pilpres dan Pileg 2024.

Meski begitu, professor pertama bidang IT di Indonesia ini mengakui ada tiga problem dalam aplikasi Sirekap mobile. Pertama saat menginput data formulir C1 Hasil yang isinya dibuat dengan tulisan tangan ke dalam bentuk digital di aplikasi Sirekap mobile. 

“Mungkin di TPS ini tulisannya bagus mudah dibaca. Mungkin juga ada sebagian yang tulisannya jelek dan sulit dibaca,” jelasnya.

Kedua, masalah kamera handphone yang digunakan petugas KPPS untuk memfoto Form C1. Salag satya isinya n terakhir soal kertas Form C1 yang kemungkinan terlipat-lipat sehingga menyulitkan sistem digital membacanya.

Sementara saksi Yudistira Dwi Wardhana Asnar menyatakan Sirekap hanyalah alat bantu publikasi dan rekapitulasi. Dia menekankan, hasil final yang digunakan KPU dalam membuat Keputusan Pemenang Pilpres dan Pileg tetap mengacu pada rekapitulasi manual dan berjenjang. 

Dia pun menegaskan bahwa timnya sudah melalui proses audit yang ketat saat mengembangkan aplikasi Sirekap. Menurutnya, ada dua lembaga yang telah melakukan audit. Yakni BRIN dan BSSN.

Sedangkan saksi Andre Putra Hermawan menegaskan, Sirekap digunakan untuk menyajikan hasil pemilu di TPS dengan cepat kepada publik. Jika sebelumnya KPPS harus menyalin sebanyak jumlah saksi, kini proses itu dipercepat dengan foto yang diunggah KPPS ke dalam aplikasi Sirekap.

Malam Takbiran, Masjid Istiqlal Gelar Rampak Bedug Dan Pawai Obor

Pemukulan beduk di Masjid Istiqlal pada malam takbiran tahun sebelumnya. (Foto: Dok Masjid Istiqlal)
Pemukulan beduk di Masjid Istiqlal pada malam takbiran tahun sebelumnya. (Foto: Dok Masjid Istiqlal)  Rakyat Merdeka – Buat masyarakat yang ingin merayakan malam takbiran di Jakarta bisa mengunjungi Masjid Istiqlal. Masjid Istiqlal akan menggelar rampak bedug, takbir nasional dan pawai obor saat malam takbiran dalam menyambut Hari Raya Idul Fitri 1445 Hijriah.

“Ada dua acara, takbir nasional, rampak bedug di plaza Al-Fattah. Sebelumnya ada pelepasan pawai obor,” kata Wakil Kepala Bidang Penyelenggara Peribadatan Masjid Istiqlal Abu Hurairah Abd. Salam dikutip dari Antara, Selasa (9/4/2024).

Abu mengatakan, dalam acara takbir nasional, Imam Besar Masjid Istiqlal Nasaruddin Umar akan memberikan sambutan dilanjutkan perwakilan dari Sarawak.

“Dari Sarawak semacam memberikan sambutan, diikuti ucapan selamat Hari Raya Idul Fitri. Masjid Istiqlal bekerja sama dengan beberapa di masjid luar. Dilanjutkan rampak bedug, lalu takbir sampai sekitar pukul 22.00-22.30 WIB,” kata dia.

Terkait pawai obor, Abu mengatakan, kegiatan ini pertama kali diadakan di Istiqlal dan difasilitasi Kementerian Agama. Menurut informasi yang dia ketahui, sebanyak 200 orang berpartisipasi dalam pawai obor, bekerja sama dengan sejumlah masjid.

“Untuk menghidupkan tradisi. Dulu kan ada bambu, pokoknya ada yang benar-benar obor, ada yang digital. Maknanya bukan di obornya tapi perayaan,” ujar Abu.

Namun, dia belum dapat memastikan lokasi kegiatan pawai obor di sekitar masjid semata atau bisa ke luar masjid karena masih menunggu izin dari pasukan pengamanan presiden. “Karena malam takbiran itu pasukan pengamanan presiden mengambilalih, diizinkan keluar atau hanya di masjid,” tukas Abu.

Koaksi Indonesia Ajak Masyarakat Urban Ikut Terlibat Aksi Iklim

Diskusi menyambut peluncuran film “Climate Witness” bertajuk Ekspresi Aksi Iklim Bersama Masyarakat Urban di Jakarta, Selasa (26/3/2024).
Diskusi menyambut peluncuran film “Climate Witness” bertajuk Ekspresi Aksi Iklim Bersama Masyarakat Urban di Jakarta, Selasa (26/3/2024).  Rakyat Merdeka – Koaksi Indonesia bersama Humanis dan beberapa Koalisi menggelar diskusi forum masyarakat sipil, menyambut peluncuran film “Climate Witness” bertajuk Ekspresi Aksi Iklim Bersama Masyarakat Urban di Jakarta, Selasa (26/3/2024).

Verena Puspawardani, Direktur Program Koaksi Indonesia, menjelaskan Koaksi Indonesia sudah dua kali memproduksi film “Climate Witness”, keduanya mengisahkan aksi iklim lokal di wilayah Nusa Tenggara Timur (NTT). 

Proses pembuatan film ini, menurut Verena, Humanis bertindak sebagai produser eksekutif, sementara Koaksi Indonesia sebagai produser pelaksana. Film ini juga didukung oleh Koalisi Sipil, Koalisi Adaptasi, Koalisi Kopi, serta Koalisi Pangan Baik.

“Tahun lalu, film ini diputar di 40 titik seluruh Indonesia, “Climate Witness” berbasis aksi iklim lokal, yang akhirnya menjadi pemantik untuk kampanye bersama,” jelas Verena.

Acara yang digelar di Semanggi ini turut mengundang empat narasumber, di antaranya Vera Nofita, Ketua Bank Sampah Gunung Emas; Muhammad Maulana Malikul Ikram, Direktur Riset dan Pengembangan PT Biops Agrotekno Indonesia; Syifa Fauziyyah, Sustainability Manager Teens Go Green Indonesia; serta Ridwan Arif, Koordinator Program VCA Koalisi Sipil, Koaksi Indonesia.

Membuka diskusi, Ridwan Arif menjelaskan Program VCA (Voices for just Climate Action) terdapat di 7 negara, yaitu Bolivia, Paraguai, Brazil, Tunisia, Kenya, Zambia, serta Indonesia. Dan Koaksi Indonesia tergabung dalam aliansi ini dengan diketuai oleh Yayasan Humanis.

Ridwan menjelaskan, VCA memiliki beberapa program berupa pengembangan kapasitas, membangun narasi bersama, dan memperkuat masyarakat sipil untuk memengaruhi kebijakan.

“Salah satu aktivitas yang dilakukan Koaksi Indonesia, yaitu pembuatan film, mendokumentasikan dan memublikasikan praktik baik. Memberi gambaran bahwa masyarakat lokal melakukan aksi-aksi iklim,”jelas Ridwan.

Ridwan menyampaikan film “Climate Witness” akan disebarluaskan tidak hanya di NTT, tetapi di wilayah-wilayah lain di Indonesia.

“Harapannya, kisah-kisah ini dapat membangkitkan semangat nasional dari tingkat tapak. Film ini jadi pemantik semangat wilayah lain di Indonesia, kita kemas untuk bahan advokasi kebijakan terkait iklim di tingkat lokal dan nasional,” ujar Ridwan.

Ridwan mengatakan, masyarakat mempunyai peran besar terkait permasalahan iklim dan lingkungan. Sebab, setiap orang memiliki ekosistemnya sendiri yang harus dirawat. Urban dan rural berbeda, dampaknya pun berbeda-beda.

Melengkapi semangat aksi iklim di NTT, Vera Nofita mengisahkan perjalanan Bank Sampah Gunung Emas, peraih penghargaan bank sampah terbaik nasional 2023 dari Menteri Lingkungan Hidup dan Kehutanan (LHK) Siti Nurbaya.

Vera Nofita mengatakan, Bank Sampah Gunung Emas sejak 2014 melakukan aksi iklim dengan mengedukasi masyarakat, khususnya ibu rumah tangga untuk peduli lingkungan dengan memilah sampah.

Menurut Vera, pendekatan yang dilakukan mulai dari memberdayakan ibu rumah tangga di lingkup RT, RW, sekolah, mahasiswa, hingga tokoh masyarakat.

“Awalnya, saya mengajak para perempuan, ibu rumah tangga, tidak bekerja, namun tetap bisa produktif dengan menghasilkan uang dari sampah. Sebagian besar golongan berpenghasilan Rp 50 ribu per minggu, saya dorong mereka menabung, menabung sampah,” ujar Vera.

Vera memaparkan tujuan aksinya untuk membuka pola pikir khususnya para perempuan, untuk mengatur hidup maka kelolalah sampah.

Menurutnya, penghasilan mitra bank sampah ada yang mencapai Rp 2 juta per bulan. Mengenai aturan, pemerintah sudah hadir melalui beberapa kebijakan, peraturan tersebut bahkan spesifik mengatur pengelolaan dan pemilahan sampah rumah tangga.

Selanjutnya, Vera menyampaikan kemitraan Bank Sampah Gunung Emas dengan WWF melalui program Plastic Smart Cities.

“WWF punya program Plastic Smart Cities untuk pengolahan sampah plastik dari hulu ke hilir, masyarakat tidak bisa lepas dari plastik, bagaimana sampah plastik diolah. Itu lah pendampingan yang diberikan WWF, hingga sampah plastik menjadi produk layak jual,” tutup Vera.

Mendekati waktu berbuka puasa, acara semakin hangat dengan kehadiran Syifa Fauziyyah yang membagikan semangat anak muda dalam aksi iklim yang dilakukan Teens Go Green Indonesia.

Syifa menyampaikan, organisasi anak muda yang berdiri pada 2007 ini awalnya diinisiasi oleh beberapa pihak, NGO dan pemerintah, bersama anak-anak SMA. 

“Anak-anak muda ini awalnya diajak mengenal alam, baru masuk ke masalah terkait lingkungan. Kita belajar mencari solusi baru melakukan aksi langsung,” kata Syifa.

Kemudian, Syifa mengatakan untuk Jakarta saja, tiap wilayah punya permasalahan masing-masing, dia memberi contoh Jakarta Utara berpotensi mengalami banjir rob, di Jakarta Timur masalahnya berbeda lagi. 

“Meski begitu masalah utama adalah sampah, masalah pilah sampah sangat krusial dan berdampak pada terjadinya banjir,“ ujar Syifa.

Syifa menjelaskan, beberapa tahun ke belakang, permasalahan yang diterima anak muda adalah stigma, menurutnya muncul pernyataan, “anak muda peduli apa sih?”, “anak muda bisa apa sih?”. Mendapati stigma tersebut justru memunculkan rasa ketidakpedulian pada diri anak muda. 

Padahal peran anak muda sangat penting, Teens Go Green memfasilitasi program-program anak muda terkait lingkungan, bahkan memberikan beasiswa. Praktik baik yang dilakukan di antaranya kegiatan penyebaran kerang hijau di pesisir Jakarta, penanaman mangrove di Kepulauan Seribu, dan transplantasi terumbu karang.

Syifa menambahkan, anak muda punya cara yang berbeda menanggapi perubahan iklim. Salah satu wujudnya dengan membuat video terkait isu lingkungan hasil interaksi langsung dengan masyarakat. 

“Kemampuan teknologi dan berjejaring itulah kekuatan yang dimiliki oleh anak muda dan Teens Go Green akan terus mendorong,” tutup Syifa.

Memperkaya diskusi, Muhammad Maulana Malikul Ikram memaparkan praktik baik Biops Agrotekno Indonesia dalam aksi iklim melalui konsep pertanian presisi.

Malikul menyampaikan, Biops Agrotekno Indonesia ingin membawa era baru pertanian di Indonesia, bahwa menjadi petani itu keren.

“Saya melihat di Indonesia pertanian 3.0 aja belum, tapi pelan-pelan ke arah sana. Mengupayakan pertanian bisa jadi industri, para petani adalah pelaku bisnis. Bagaimana caranya mereka nggak kerja hanya untuk makan, tapi berkembang lebih besar lagi. Semua butuh waktu, kita bergerak bersama, dengan teknologi petani tidak rugi, kami mengedukasi pola pikir investasi,” ujar Malikul.

Malikul kemudian memaparkan Biops sudah melakukan praktik baik di pesisir Pulau Semau, Kupang, menerapkan teknologi untuk membantu mendistribusikan air secara merata.

Usai Mencoblos Bareng Keluarga, Mahfud Harap Indonesia Dapat Pemimpin Baik

Cawapres nomor urut 3 Mahfud MD saat menggunakan hak pilih di TPS 106, Sleman, Yogyakarta, Rabu (14/2/2024). (Foto: TPN Ganjar-Mahfud).
Cawapres nomor urut 3 Mahfud MD saat menggunakan hak pilih di TPS 106, Sleman, Yogyakarta, Rabu (14/2/2024). (Foto: TPN Ganjar-Mahfud).  Rakyat Merdeka – Cawapres nomor urut 03, Mahfud MD mencoblos di TPS 106 dekat kediamannya di Sambilegi, Maguwoharjo, Depok, Sleman, DIY, Rabu (14/2/2024). Usai mencoblos, Mahfud mengungkapkan harapan agar pelaksanaan pencoblosan di seluruh Indonesia bisa berjalan baik dan melahirkan pemimpin yang baik nantinya.

“Mudah-mudahan Indonesia mendapat pemimpin dan wakil rakyat yang baik hari ini. Sekurang-kurangnya seleksinya lebih terfokus,” kata Mahfud kepada awak media.

Mahfud menerangkan, dia telah selesai mencoblos semua kertas suara. Mulai dari Presiden dan Wakil Presiden, Anggota DPR, DPD dan DPRD provinsi, kab dan kota. Ia mengaku merasakan dan menyaksikan sendiri pelaksanaan pencoblosan Pemilu 2024 di TPS 106 tempatnya mencoblos di Sambilegi berjalan sudah sangat adil.

Artinya, mereka yang ingin mencoblos diarahkan dengan baik untuk mengikuti tahapan-tahapan pencoblosan sampai bisa memberikan suaranya di kertas suara. Mulai dari pendaftaran, diberikan surat suara setelah nama dipanggil, ditunjukkan secara terbuka kalau surat suara belum tercoblos dan pencoblosan secara rahasia.

“Artinya, mudah-mudahan di seluruh Indonesia berjalan tertib dan baik seperti di TPS 106 ini,” ujar Mahfud.

Mahfud merasa, semua akan bisa baik jika pelaksanaan seluruh tahapan pencoblosan di TP-TPS akan berjalan baik seperti di TPS 106 tanpa menimbulkan sengketa pemilu.

“Ini kalau acaranya semua TPS berjalan seperti ini insya Allah Pemilu tidak akan menimbulkan sengketa, akan baik baik saja,” kata Mahfud.

Mahfud datang ke TPS bersama istrinya, Zaizatun Nihayati dan anaknya, Royhan Akbar. Mahfud berharap, banyaknya awak media yang meliput menjadi pertanda baik.

“Ini paling ramai wartawan ya, dulu juga ramai tapi paling wartawannya 5-10 gitu, ya ini datang semua mudah-mudahan keramaian ini juga menggambarkan banyaknya suara nanti untuk saya,” ujar Mahfud.

Terbang Ke Mesir, Mendag Zulhas Intensif Garap Pasar Non Tradisional

Mendag Zulkifli Hasan (Foto: Ist)
Mendag Zulkifli Hasan (Foto: Ist)  Rakyat Merdeka – Menteri Perdagangan (Mendag) Zulkifli Hasan berkomitmen menggarap pasar ekspor potensial di negara-negara nontradisional, khususnya Benua Afrika. Salah satunya, Mesir yang digarap intensif oleh Kementerian Perdagangan (Kemendag).

“Pasar Afrika, seperti Mesir, merupakan salah satu pasar potensial nontradisional yang harus digarap intensif. Untuk itu, kami akan bertemu sejumlah pihak dan meningkatkan kerja sama perdagangan dengan pemangku kepentingan di Mesir,” ujar pria yang akrab disapa Zulhas ini, Sabtu (13/5).

Menurut jadwal yang diterima, Zulhas akan berada di Mesir selama tiga hari, yakni 14-16 Mei 2023. Ia akan melakukan pertemuan bilateral dengan Menteri Perdagangan dan Industri Mesir guna membahas kelanjutan kerja sama kedua negara.

Kedua menteri diagendakan menandatangani Nota Kesepahaman (MoU) Pembentukan Komite Perdagangan Bersama (Joint Trade Committee/JTC).

Zulhas juga akan bertemu pelaku usaha Mesir yang tergabung dalam Kamar Dagang Mesir (Federation of Egyptian Chambers of Commerce/FEDCOC) dan organisasi lainnya.

Ia juga akan membuka kegiatan Forum Bisnis Indonesia-Mesir. Kegiatan ini akan mempertemukan para pelaku usaha kedua negara.

Dalam acara tersebut, Zulhas akan menyaksikan sejumlah penandatanganan MoU antara pelaku usaha kedua negara. Di antaranya penandatanganan MoU imbal dagang Indonesia-Mesir dan penandatanganan MoU antara Kadin kedua negara.

Mendag juga telah dijadwalkan bertemu diaspora Indonesia di Mesir, sekaligus meresmikan ruang pameran promosi Indonesia di Kedutaan Besar RI di Kairo.

Beberapa kunjungan perusahaan di Mesir juga dilakukan. Seperti ke pabrik Indomie dan ke salah satu importir kopi Indonesia, yaitu Pabrik Kopi Zahret El Bon El Brazili Co.

Ia berjanji akan terus meningkatkan hubungan perdagangan Indonesia-Mesir. Tercatat Pada periode Januari-Maret 2023, total perdagangan Indonesia dan Mesir mencapai 432,9 juta dolar AS.

Sempat turun 12 persen dibanding periode yang sama tahun sebelumnya yang tercatat sebesar 492,1 juta dolar AS. Pada periode ini, ekspor Indonesia ke Mesir tercatat sebesar 379,4 juta dolar AS.

Sedangkan impor Indonesia dari Mesir tercatat hanya 53,5 juta dolar AS. Sementara pada 2022, total perdagangan kedua negara tembus 1,57 miliar dolar AS.

Pada tahun tersebut, ekspor Indonesia ke Mesir tercatat 1,3 miliar dolar AS dan impor Indonesia dari Mesir hanya 226 juta dolar AS.

Dengan demikian, Indonesia menikmati surplus perdagangan 1,1 miliar dolar AS. Adapun produk ekspor utama Indonesia ke Mesir di antaranya minyak kelapa sawit, kopi, kelapa, benang dan bagian yang digunakan untuk apparatus.

Sedangkan komoditas impor utama Indonesia dari Mesir adalah pupuk mineral fosfat, kurma, buah ara, pinus, alpukat, jambu biji, pupuk mineral, tetes hasil dari ekstraksi atau pemurnian gula dan kalsium fosfat alami.